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Library winter break hours

December 22nd, 2014 No comments

The Delaware campus law library will be closed for winter break from December 24th through January 4th. We will reopen Monday, January 5th. Enjoy the holidays!

For more information about library hours see our webpage.

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Library exam hours

December 5th, 2014 No comments

The Delaware campus law library is now on exam hours. We will be open until 2 a.m. every night through December 18th. Good luck with your exams!

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John Maxcy Zane’s The Story of Law and the Delaware Bar

November 24th, 2014 No comments
The Power of the Law illustration

The Power of the Law by Edwin Blashfield, frontispiece of the original edition of The Story of the Law.

The modern Delaware Bar exam has a reputation as one of the toughest in the nation. But today’s bar candidates can at least be thankful they no longer have to read The Story of the Law by John Maxcy Zane. From 1931 to around 1970, those wishing to be admitted to the bar had to first register as a law student and were required to read and pass an oral examination on The Story of Law, a survey of the history of Western law originally published in 1927. The Delaware State Bar Association’s official history claims it was “for many members of the Bar, … a horrible experience they have never forgotten.” In 1963 13% of candidates failed their examination on Zane.

In a 1987 article in The Delaware Lawyer, attorney William Prickett (whose father, William Prickett, Sr., was a member of the Delaware Board of Bar Examiners) called The Story of Law “that truly awful book.” He recalled his father’s explanation for the Board’s continued use of the book: first, the members of the Board were already familiar with Zane and didn’t want to spend the time to learn a new book well enough to conduct the exam, and second, many aspects of legal practice are tedious, so reading and understanding Zane was a good test of a lawyer’s ability to learn tedious and dull material.

The Story of Law does have its admirers. A review in the Pennsylvania Law Review called it “… a source of delight from cover to cover.” It was republished in a second edition by the Liberty Fund in 1998 with a new introduction and illustrations. The introduction to the new edition describes it as “… a learned and highly readable account of the shaping of Western law from the Neolithic age to the dawn of the twentieth century.”

If you would like to judge Zane for yourself, you can read the new edition online at the Liberty Fund website. Widener Law Library has a copy of the new edition available for borrowing. The first edition is in our special collections and can’t be borrowed but you can view it on HeinOnline.


Kinnane, Charles H., The Story of Law by John M. Zane, 78 U. Pa. L. Rev. 89.

Murphy, Earl Finbar, The Philosophy of Law in Historical Perspective by Carl Joachim Friedrich; The Story of the Law and the Men Who Made It-From the Earliest Times to the Present by René A. Wormser; Legal History, Law and Social Change by Frederick G. Kempin, 8 Am. J. Legal Hist. 89.

Prickett, William, Flunking the Bar, 6 Del. Law. 34 (Summer 1987)

Siebold, Dennis J. Admission to the Bar in The Delaware Bar in the Twentieth Century (Delaware State Bar Association, 1994)

Zane, John Maxcy, The Story of Law (Liberty Fund, 2nd ed. 1998)

Thanksgiving hours

November 21st, 2014 No comments

Thanksgiving is coming up. The Delaware campus Widener Law Library will be closed on Thanksgiving and on shorter hours Thanksgiving weekend.

  • November 26               8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • November 27                CLOSED
  • November 28 & 29      9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • November 30               12 p.m. to 11 p.m.

For more information on library hours see our webpage.

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Coins accepted for paying your Delaware taxes in 1781

November 14th, 2014 No comments
list of gold and silver coins

List of acceptable gold and silver coins for paying a tax levied in Delaware, 1781.

In 1781 the state of Delaware passed a law (2 Del. Laws ch. 71) calling for an assessment to pay the debt from the American Revolution. Part of the taxes had to be paid in gold or silver coins, or in new banknotes. The act listed which coins were acceptable for paying the tax, including the Brazilian johannes (commonly called a Joe), the English or French Guinea, the moidore (also minted in Brazil), Spanish pieces of eight, and the Arabian chequin. You could not pay in German coins (probably because they were notoriously debased.)

More information on early coins in America:



New books in the library for October 2014

November 11th, 2014 No comments

Here is the list of all new books received in the law library in October 2014.

Library balcony closed for the winter

October 31st, 2014 No comments

Here’s a sure sign that winter is approaching. We’ve closed the law library balcony for the season. It will reopen in the spring.

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New Widener Law faculty articles

October 22nd, 2014 No comments

A few of my picks for recent most interesting articles by Widener Law faculty.


New books for September

October 21st, 2014 No comments

Labor Day weekend library hours

August 26th, 2014 No comments

This weekend the Delaware campus law library will be on shorter hours for the Labor Day holiday. Please note we will be closed on Monday.

  •  August 29             8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • August 30              9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • August 31              12 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • September 1           CLOSED

Enjoy your holiday weekend! A complete list of library hours is on our website.

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